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How Can Homeowners Identify The Termite Species In And Around Their Homes? And Why Proper Identification Is Important

July 15th, 2019

Several termite species infest homes in Georgia, and now that the termite swarming season is largely over in the state, numerous colonies are now established in areas where they had not existed before, and these areas include residential and urban locations. Termite swarms occur in Georgia beginning in February following several consecutive days of warm weather accompanied by bouts of rainfall. Swarming season in the state generally peaks in between the months of March and May, but given the warm subtropical climate in the southeast US, termites can survive during the winter in the region, making small swarms an occasional occurrence all year round. During particularly cold winters in the southeast, subterranean termites survive by either digging into deeper areas below the ground where temperatures become progressively higher, or by maintaining their presence within the structural wood of homes.

The most common termite pest species in Georgia, such as the Formosan subterranean termite, the eastern subterranean termite and the dark southern subterranean termite, have stopped swarming for the most part, but another subterranean termite species in the state, the light southeastern subterranean termite, has yet to initiate its annual swarming activity. This destructive termite species swarms in the southeast in between late July and October, which is important to know when it comes to properly identifying termite swarmers (alates) found on a homeowner’s property.

Termite control procedures can only be effective if the pest control professional is aware of the offending termite species. While pest controllers usually locate termite pests that infest houses, treatments can begin more quickly if a homeowner is able to present a pest controller with termite specimens found on a property. However, with the exception of Formosan subterranean termite workers, it is hard to identify a termite species solely by examining worker termites. This is because the workers from the two most common subterranean termite species in Georgia, the eastern subterranean termite and dark southern subterranean termite, look nearly identical; instead, entomologists and pest control professionals rely on the stark morphological differences between soldier termites from different species in order to properly identify the species of termite infesting a home. Of course, collecting soldier termites is not easy given the insect’s concealed habitat, but if termite alates can be collected, then identification can also be readily determined. If a home is infested with termites, or if termite colonies are located near a home, then there is a good chance that swarming alates will emerge from the infested property at some point during the spring and summer. Simply collecting wings and dessicated alate corpses can sometimes suffice to allow a termite species to be accurately identified.

Have you ever found the wings of termite alates around your home, such as on windowsills and/or doorframes?

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